A weekly round up of articles about employment, the labour market, skills training and workforce development. Here is the news for the week ending 8th October 2015.
This week in the Bangladesh English Press…
…we look at the economics of rice farming. Public universities address sexual harassment on campus.
The increasing cost of labour has been offset by mechanisation and higher yields
Global financial institutions issue their forecasts for growth while local commentators worry about global trade agreements. And we look at insurance to protect the livelihoods of the poor.
Rice Farming Remains Profitable for Small Farmers
The Financial Express published an editorial looking at the business of rice farming. The article says profits remain strong for small and larger farmers. The increasing cost of labour has been offset by mechanisation and higher yields from modern varieties of rice. And, although a cost to farmers, wage increases are a positive sign for a rural economy.
These conclusions are part of a recent research study on tenant farmers and their access to credit and extension services.
The Independent writes that a nation-wide project for mushroom production has ended. A typical mushroom farmer could earn 30,000 Taka a month. And 2,500 mushroom farmers were created under the project. The project used to supply mushroom spores to farmers.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
In 2009 the Bangladesh High Court issued guidelines to prevent sexual harassment at work and in schools and universities. These mandatory guidelines defined sexual harassment and compelled employers and educational institutes to investigate charges of harassment.
New project to address sexual harassment in four public universities
On Sunday The Financial Express and The Independent wrote about a new project to address sexual harassment in four public universities. The project is supported by the Swedish government and implemented by the Bangladesh National Women’s Lawyers Association. It could benefit 30,000 students.
The Independent carried news of the Fempower seminar held at the International School Dhaka organised by Footsteps. Footsteps is an organisation that promotes youth empowerment. Speakers at Fempower addressed the barriers faced by women in education and work.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund both estimate that economic growth in Bangladesh this year will be 6.5 per cent.
Bangladesh is second only to India and could have been higher
The Financial Express and The Daily Star cover publications from these global financial institutions.
The World Bank’s estimate is detailed in its South Asia Economic Focus for Fall 2015. Bangladesh is second only to India in South Asia and could have been higher. Poor infrastructure, demographics, and political uncertainties are holding Bangladesh back according to the World Bank.
The International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook has details of its own projections.
Two weeks ago we noted that the Asian Bangladesh had revised its own projection. The Asian Development Bank believes that Bangladesh will grow at 6.7 per cent compared to its earlier prediction of 6.4 per cent.
Trade Agreements Trouble Bangladesh
The papers carried news on trade agreements throughout the week. Commentators were concerned about the impact on the ready-made garments industry.
Vietnam will have a competitive edge over Bangladesh in the export of garments to the US and Canada
Bangladesh is the second largest exporter and over four million people are employed in the sector. Most workers are women.
The Financial Express reports on the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership. This is a trade deal between twelve countries including the USA and Japan. The deal still requires legislative approval in each of the countries.
The Financial Express fears that Vietnam will have a competitive edge over Bangladesh in the export of garments to the US and Canada.
The same paper suggested steps that would protect the country’s status as the second largest exporter of ready-made garments.
But the American Ambassador said that the new trade deal will not affect Bangladesh’s garments industry. She also said that Bangladesh might one day be accepted into the Trans Pacific Partnership.
There had been more bad news on trade agreements earlier in the week.
The Assistant United States Trade Representative announced that Bangladesh will not be reinstated to the trade agreement known as the General System of Preferences. The Representative stated that Bangladesh has not fulfilled its obligations to improve workplace safety and labour rights.
The Financial Express examines the upside of not being readmitted to the trade agreement. It also clarifies the connection between Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement and the General System of Preferences.
So the USA remains concerned about workplace safety but Bangladesh continues to address the issue.
The Financial Express reported earlier in the week on an initiative to pay for the upgrades required in small and medium garments factories. These upgrades will cover fire, safety and structure.
And at the end of the week the Daily Star wrote about a mini fire brigade for factories in Gazipur.
Insurance Protection for the Poor
An Employment Injury Insurance scheme will be developed for employees in garments industries. The Bangladesh Ministry of Labour, the German government, and the International Labour Organization have agreed to work on this development. The Independent reported on the recent visit to Bangladesh of the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The Independent examines a new insurance product for small farmers. The insurance protects farmers against losses relating to climate.
It seems that insurance could benefit a range of poorer people. This week The Independent alerts that a quarter of a million livelihoods are threatened because of flood damage to hand looms.